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Volunteer firefighter receives skin grafts after being injured in Caldor Fire

By Walter Makaula

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    STANISLAUS COUNTY, California (KCRA) — Richard Gerety, of the West Stanislaus Fire Protection District, left his wife and 2-and-a-half-year-old son to fight the Caldor Fire in mid-August.

On Wednesday, he was recovering in the hospital at UC Davis after suffering second- and third-degree burns to 20% of his body. His wife, Jennifer Gerety, has been at his side as he begins his long road to recovery.

“He had skin grafting done on his hands Wednesday, and that is looking successful,” said Jennifer. “He started physical therapy today which is hard, but he’s doing good with it.”

Because Richard earns his living as a mechanic and volunteers as a firefighter, the doctors know he needs his hands to continue supporting his family.

“It’s going to be extensive physical therapy,” Jennifer said. “After they unwrapped his hands on Monday and they already have his fingers individual, an intense physical therapy started [Wednesday].”

Richard had been fighting the Caldor Fire with a strike team for 10 days before he was seriously injured Aug. 28. Jennifer recalled the heart-wrenching phone call informing her of her husband’s injuries.

“I did not expect that kind of phone call,” she said. “It was very scary. It’s not something you ever want to have to see or hear, but everybody, the chiefs involved, the person that was with him, they all kept me updated. I knew within a very short amount of time what was going on.”

Jennifer said their family is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support they’ve received from the community.

“Even he is just mind blown at how many have reached out and all of these donations and the kind words and the thoughts and the prayers,” she said. “We don’t know how we’re going to thank everybody, but… we’re extremely, extremely grateful for everything.”

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